News

Jeremy Corbyn sabotaged our show

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A photograph of Tony Blair when he chills and connects with nature

The left wing love a good hero. When we started making our new show Tribute Acts, Labour had lost the election. Cheryl and I wanted to make something about the absence of any one to believe in anymore. We started by interviewing our dads. Both are vocal socialists and once great figures of inspiration to us, but as we grew up, as probably all parents do, they became real and flawed.

In the interview we realised they can’t relate to women. When asked who would be their top advisors if they were PM both men reeled off a list of inspirational men  (Cheryl’s dad said ‘Mandela obviously’ and my Dad said some French man who had written a book ‘I haven’t read it yet but I like his ideas’) then my dad said he should have a woman in his cabinet but he had no idea who that would be.

We wanted to create a show that explored how we used to hero worship father figures and how it didn’t end well; it left us with no one to believe in. Growing up our father figures were Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, and of course our actual dads. We made this show and it wasn’t perfect but it had heart, it was brave and it had dance routines and it was set in space. We took it to Edinburgh.

But now we are back and there’s Jeremy. Jeremy Bloody Corbyn.

All of my clever friends on facebook and twitter are obsessed. They share photos of him in shorts, photos of him with hen parties, vids of him shouting at Margaret Thatcher. They love him. And I kind of do too. As my dad said about the Frenchman ‘I like his ideas.’ But I’m wary. I’m wary of anyone who has had three wives. It’s something I get told off for saying because I don’t really know how to be eloquent about it. But I see in it something deeply ingrained in the exclusion of women in left wing politics. And I guess I’m troubled that two white men are leading a party about equality. And I guess I’m worried that a lot of my clever friends who are so vocal about loving Jeremy would maybe never be so vocal about loving a woman. And I guess I’m worried about how easy it is to love a man.

Then I thought – did our dads ever set out to be heroes? Does Jeremy want to be a hero? Did the hero story go to Tony Blair’s head? Maybe the problem is with us. With Cheryl and I for wanting a hero, wanting to believe in these figures of authority. I guess if you’re a Tory there’s no need to be a hero, you don’t need the story of bad vs evil and wrong and right, you just want life to be comfortable for you. A Tory leader can put their privates in a pig’s mouth and there is no threat to their ideology. But if you’re a socialist, if you want fairness and change, you have to be perfect. And when you are not there’s a big problem.

So we are going to go back to the beginning. We are going to interview each other. We are going to ask all the questions we would never ask each other and it’s going to be a hell of a lot more difficult than trying to dance in time to Jamiroquai. So alongside our Dad’s version of our lives we are going to present ours. We are going to put ourselves under the same microscope we put our sweet, flawed and trusting fathers under.

And we are damn excited to share it with you all.

 Tribute Acts is at Camden People’s Theatre between 20 – 24 October. To book tickets please click here.

Honesty when selling a show…

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Cheryl and I have been running around Assembly George Square Gardens at Edinburgh Fringe handing out flyers for Tribute Acts. We have actually reached a breakthrough which is going to be very useful for the rest of our Fringe experience – we like flyering.

Our flyer image is next level (thanks to Christa Holka and Alexander Innes) and we’ve now discovered the perfect hook.

‘We interviewed our dads.’

Everyone raises their eyebrows. ‘Really?’

‘Yeah. We asked them loads of questions and in the show we try and make a tribute out of all the nonsense they came out with.’

‘Ha’

‘Oh and also when we were growing up we thought our dads were Tony Blair so the show parallels the rise and fall of Tony with our Dads.’

The people we talk to have been making great jokes at this point. We target young people. Older people. People who are drinking. Dads. And Lad-gends.

But we don’t tell them everything. We don’t tell them that actually the show deals with the crippling disappointment and heartbreak of being dumped by your dad. The strange weight of rejection when your family breaks apart. When you are no longer the priority. When another woman lurks in the background. And you turn from the light of someone’s life into the shackle around their neck. The feeling that if they can treat your mother in this way then they are condoning every mistreatment from a partner against you in the future.

We met a really wonderful father and daughter queuing up to see a show and we told them our pitch. They had some great jokes about the premise and promised to come and see us.

They did. They came together and they sat in the front row. They both laughed loudly. The father laughed at Cheryl’s dad’s terror of her having a bra. The daughter laughed at my dad’s bizarre blankness when trying to think of a female politician. When the show closed they applauded loudly and left.

We saw them on the street yesterday and they were full of excitement about the show. The daughter said that her parents had divorced when she was younger. Upon leaving the show her dad had turned to her and said you need a hug. That they had gone to a café, cried and talked honestly.

This is so brilliant.  We are so pleased. When we were making this show we wanted to start conversations.

It also made me think, if we were to talk openly about the show when we flyer, would people be willing to take the risk? Tribute Acts is all about disillusionment and hoping for a good time. So I guess it is apt that we are doing the same in our flyering. Perhaps the show actually begins then….

Oh and if we flyer you. The end of the pitch goes like this –

‘It’s also set in space.’

Father figures

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A year ago we decided to make a show about our dads. Specifically about the father – daughter relationship. And about Blair. And about Clinton playing the sax. And about Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the 1990s.

But let’s put those last three references to one side for a moment (maybe how they link with father-daughter relationships will become clear in the show).

When the brilliant Arc Stockton invited us to spend a week with them developing the show, we wanted to conduct some research with real dads. To find out what it’s like being a father. How is fatherhood seen in society? Do they get enough support? Are dads valued? Do men know the importance of being a dad? We were also really keen to find out how fatherhood has changed in the last fifty years with more women working.

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Over the course of our residency at Arc, we ran a series of workshops and drop ins with local dads to ask them these questions. We were overwhelmed by the response. So many men said the same thing: that the moment of birth was almost a lonely one; some said they felt inadequate, overwhelmed, and weirded out. A lot of the men we spoke to agreed that they needed more support in the run-up-to and after the birth of their child; but that asking for help didn’t feel right. There aren’t things like a dads-net, for example. They all agreed that being a dad is life-changing and incredibly important, but it’s a role that men can be opted out of if they wanted to. They also said that responsible fatherhood is about being conscious and constant.
an image of a father figure

We also showed them a series of images of dads: the kind you’d see on greetings cards or in adverts: dads getting angry teaching a driving lesson; dads pulling a proud face as they walk their daughter down the aisle; dads sitting in an armchair with a pint in hand, farting away like an old git. These images were absolutely hilarious in their two-dimensionality, but something about their crudeness reveals how one-note society’s ideas about fatherhood are.

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The best thing about the sessions was when participants shared their feelings about being a dad together with other dads. Offering a space for dads to share experiences felt like an obvious, really simple thing to do. We’re not sure if it’s the answer, but it’s something that could run everywhere to help men feel more supported.

More than that, it was clear that the idea of fatherhood needs some fresh thinking. As society evolves, it feels like fatherhood is stuck. Perhaps we all need to reimagine what being a dad should mean in 2015. That way both men and women will feel more confident and happy – and we’ll all have a better time.

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N.B: We’re obsessed with this video which may well be the best depiction of fathers and daughters in society. No, it’s not King Lear or the Tempest or even Armageddon. It’s Nicole et Papa. Enjoy!

Folk nostalgia and ‘generation wuss’

We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling crippled by nostalgia. From Great British Bake Off (hashtag GBBO to its fans) to Keep Calm and Carry On slogans, a longing for the past – specifically a pastoral England that never existed – is everywhere. Culture is riddled by it, and ads are full of it –  we reckon the most hilarious one is this sick advert for Richmond Sausages (put a fork in it, thanks).

Gags about twee advertising have been running for ages, but we’re more interested in how our obsession with nostalgia has affected youth culture and our ability to engage. Cheryl recently went to a talk on ADIDAS’s branding and their decision to focus on reworking vintage classics rather than design new trainers. Any brand appealing to young people must evoke their childhood, the branding expert said. The more you can create a black and white filtered vision of the trusted past, the more likely young people will buy into your product.

The observation is grotesque because it’s so acute: the advertising guys have got our generation nailed. Youth culture is full of inaction and looking back: we are recreating a nursery world where we can stay safe forever. Brett Easton Ellis, one of the key generation X writers, recently called us ‘Generation Wuss’. But it’s a weird time to be alive. To be engaged in the situation we face today means taking responsibility for issues that feel insurmountable, like imminent environmental collapse. So is it any surprise we choose to remain passive as a generation.

That’s why our next 10 minute work in progress for Drunken Nights III will  call on our audience to take action in their lives. With a shot glass or two, we’re going to invite people to become their own hero (like Matthew McConaughey in his own Oscars speech). Share what you always wanted to say, take action by pouring a drink over our heads.

Come along, it’s going to be FUN. And it’s in a PUB!

Drunken Nights III is at the George Tavern on 19 November, 8pm

Going home

6 years ago I finished university, the banks crashed and I was miserable as hell.

I moved back in with my parents and applied to every job in theatre that I could find in Yorkshire. I had a drama degree and some work experience. I ended up selling chopping boards from suitcases on industrial estates in Bradford.

I kept applying for jobs in theatre. I kept getting nowhere. Meanwhile my Dad ran off to a bedsit with a tesco bag full of hoodies and a woman half my mother’s age.

I lost my job selling chopping boards (I hadn’t sold any) and got a job as a receptionist in a law firm where I was given a brown pin striped suit from the 80’s to wear. Heels, makeup and a 90 degree ponytail were obligatory as part of my ‘contractual obligation to look presentable.’ I would colour in a circle for every hour that went by. Eventually I became friends with one of the lawyers. We would eat sausage rolls and look round the art gallery on lunch hours. People didn’t like this. Before long rumours spread that I was sleeping with half of the firm.

I decided it was time to get out.

On the 1st October I’m performing a show about how I bought a plane ticket to New York with the hope of escaping. It’s a story about how I threw away my principles and worked in a strip club for feet to fund an arts internship. About how I ended up taking money from men who wanted to touch my feet. The show explores how as a young woman in our culture I was meant to feel powerful through feeling ‘sexy.’ How the media is full of young women, (older women are nowhere to be seen but thats another blog post) having fun and wearing killer heels. The show is about how as a young woman I felt trivial and irrelevant.

6 years later, I’m bringing the show to Bradford where it all began. It will be exciting and daunting in equal measure to perform in such a meaningful place.

I hope it has got easier for young people to get involved in the arts in Yorkshire. I wonder how many have to struggle to find a way to complete unpaid arts internships just to be seen at an interview or how many have to go elsewhere.

Most importantly I hope the next young woman who is told to wear that bloody brown suit tells them to fuck off.

Feet

We made some cool friends…

On August 30th we performed extracts from The Fanny Hill Project v2.0 at CUNTemporary’s Deep Trash Night at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.  It was an amazing night. Shouts to performers – Sigmunds Baby, A Man to Pet, Leaky Vessel and whoever put the Spice Girls on at 2am.

Cheryl in Fanny Hill at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club

Reviews – The Fanny Hill Project

We’ve just had some reviews of The Fanny Hill Project v2.0!

Catherine Love wrote a really thoughtful piece about the development of the show here, saying ‘Seddon and fellow performer and director Cheryl Gallacher to return to the spotlight… It’s a wise choice, as the pair have a compelling dynamic and an effortles way of inviting in their audience.’

Exeunt gave us four stars, saying, ‘a thought-provoking examination of the taboos and values weighing on female friendship and sexuality.’  Read the review here

A Younger Theatre also reviewed the show here. They said: ‘it’s an entertaining and gutsy show that grapples with ever-prevalent ideas from an unexplored and unique perspective – well-written, well-performed and well worth a watch.’

 

Mates of the State

Evan IfekoyaHiya!

Whatcha doing on Saturday 19th April? Cos we’re going to be performing a preview of The Fanny Hill Project v2.0 alongside new mates of the State – Populace and Evan Ifekoya (in the photo). Here’s some more info about their work in progress showings…

Populace – Protest:The Musical
Protest: The Musical explores how female activists get what they want. Through the use of pop music and dance routines Populace explore the public game of smiles and the personal battles of ferocity.

Evan Ifekoya – There be dragons here but I carry something of you wherever I go
Live artist Evan Ifekoya weaves video, performance and sculpture into a live event exploring being a black, genderqueer, British Nigerian feminist.

 

Oh yeah and tickets are only a fiver mate.

xx

Fanny’s on tour

We’re so excited to say that The Fanny Hill Project is going on tour!

Between now and June, we’ll be pillow-fighting our way through London, Exeter and Bradford. For more info on dates, visit COMING UP

We will also be developing our new show, Multiple Choice while we are at the BikeShed, and then at Cambridge Junction. For details about the work-in-progress sharings, see COMING UP